When the pandemic hit, gyms closed and — just like toilet paper — fitness equipment became scarce online and in stores. As COVID-19 disrupted people’s fitness routines of working out at gyms or in groups, there has been more of a focus on home-based exercise equipment.
There are many options for interactive home workout equipment. Many companies put out their version of a fitness mirror that lets people access live workouts and one-on-one personal training from the comfort of their homes. Peloton and other interactive bikes are gaining in popularity.
The downside is these types of high-tech equipment require a considerable financial investment. Fortunately, there are more affordable options available, including:
Virtual workouts. There are lots of online options, whether for a group or one-on-one with gyms, fitness trainers or yoga instructors. Most are relatively inexpensive, and some are even free.
Follow influencers. Many influencers from YouTube and other platforms have developed at-home fitness programs — along with plenty of inspirational photos — to provide the motivation to keep working toward goals. Be sure to check for nationally recognized credentials and certifications.
Yoga and Pilates. Workouts like yoga and Pilates that involve stretching and deep breathing can provide the added benefit of supporting mental health. That’s good news since COVID-19 has brought to light or heightened concerns about mental health issues.
Outdoor workouts. Moving workouts outside is a good option because the coronavirus spreads at lower rates outdoors. Even in the winter, there is plenty to do, from skiing to riding fat tire bikes to snowshoeing. Hiking, walking and shoveling snow also count toward exercise goals.
Wearable fitness devices. Fitbits and smart watches continue to improve with more advanced technologies. Several apps now include virtual coaching or other community-based strategies for motivation. Setting a daily step goal is a great way to stay motivated through the winter months.
Fitness can also be a family affair. There are ways to get children, who have been home and indoors for months, more active:
- A homemade obstacle course that has kids running through their yards or up and down the stairs can be a motivating way to get kids moving.
- Dance parties can be a fun way to encourage the kids (and their parents) to get their bodies moving in creative ways.
- Indoor activity stations and activity cards are a fun way to get kids moving that will seem like playing games.
- Videos such as child yoga offer a way for youngsters to benefit from the stretching and breathing techniques that can help them calm down and relax.
There are some safety and general tips to keep in mind when exercising, whether in the home or outside:
- Properly clean exercise equipment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first cleaning surfaces using soap and water, followed by disinfectant.
- Stay informed about local guidance and mandates regarding gyms and mask-wearing.
- Talk to your physician before beginning new fitness routines.
The secret to enjoying the benefits of exercise is to make it a routine. Set goals and reserve time for activity. Even at home, setting up a fitness regimen begins with a goal. A great way to start is by committing to strength training exercises at least twice per week for 30 minutes per session.
Over time, a routine will lead to results. The key to meeting fitness goals begins with planning and commitment.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. For more health and wellness tips, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.
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